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Estela Matta (Class of 2008)

Day Division

For twenty years prior to coming to law school I worked and volunteered for many public interest causes. Starting in 1986, I went door-to-door for NYPIRG [New York Public Interest Research Group] to gather signatures in support of the Super Fund to help clean up toxic waste sites. I did studies with NARAL [National Abortion Rights Action League] to examine the effect of legislation that infringed on women's child bearing choices. I volunteered to accompany victims of domestic violence to court to lend them moral support and assist them in filling out basic legal forms. I then worked for the Chairman of the New York State's Matrimonial Law Committee helping to pass legislation that made domestic violence a crime, and worked for court-appointed criminal defense attorneys during the day, while also helping organize and conduct seminars to educate people on their legal rights in housing, government benefits or child support actions. Ultimately, I realized that in order to utilize my limited time and resources most effectively in the fight for the rights of the underrepresented, within a system that operates under rules and laws, I had to become a lawyer. My decision to come to law school was made at great personal sacrifice, forsaking first my career on Wall Street, then my comfortable job and home in New York. But, it was made to pursue this one overriding objective: to better equip myself by becoming a Public Interest lawyer.

I came to New England School of Law because of its well established Public Interest and Clinical studies programs. In addition to providing a very strong foundation in core legal subjects, New England School of Law offered an expansive Clinic program targeting eighteen areas of law and legal practice. I took advantage of its diverse and inclusive Clinic program by participating in four clinic courses: Public Interest, Administrative Law, Family Law and Criminal Procedure. Through these clinics, I represented clients at the school's in-house clinic and at Greater Boston Legal Services, clerked for a judge, and worked with the Suffolk County District Attorneys Office. Each of these clinics not only added perspective and viability to the "book study" of law that accompanies the clinical portion, but gave me invaluable hands-on experience even while I was still completing my JD.

My clinic experiences vividly illustrated the interconnectiveness of the different areas of law we study in the classroom. For example, while interning at Greater Boston Legal Service for my Family Law Clinic, I came upon clients that had domestic violence issues that were often strained by immigration problems or criminal threats from their abuser or problems with government benefits or housing. Suddenly, my Administrative, Immigration and Criminal Procedures law studies didn't seem irrelevant or even remote. The strength of the core courses, combined with the actual practice environment, prepared me for the practice of law in a way that conventional approaches to law studies would never have afforded me. The combination gave me what I came to law school to find: an enhanced ability to serve in the public's interest.

(April 2008)